Monday, May 30, 2011

Writing Prompt #15

In Story by Robert McKee, he makes a distinction between characterization (the age, weight, gender, dress, lifestyle, friends, causes of a character) and character (the truest self of a character, illustrated by their choices under pressure). This got me thinking—and realizing—that I know very little about my main characters, and I have a lot of work to do in that area. Toward that end, here’s a prompt:

15) Describe the decision your character would make in the following situation:

Your character is in what they consider to be a permanent relationship. This might mean marriage, might not, depending on their views. They are in a relationship that they considered would probably last them the rest of their lives. They’re on a journey far, far away from their spouse/partner, when suddenly, they meet The One. There is no doubt in your character’s mind that this is their soul mate, the person they were meant to be with, and the other character knows it too. However, they have no idea how much time they’ll have together. What does your character do now?

Here’s mine:


Hebrion is considered to be my most honorable character in my current wip. He is loyal and honorable in all of his dealings, and represents his House well. In this instance, let’s assume he is married, and not only married, but married to the sister of the person whom he comes to find is his soul mate.

Ideally, if he were at home, he would go to his wife first and explain the situation. He can’t resist the desire to be with his soul mate, long-time marriage or no. Scandal in front of the entire House, honor bedamned, he has to be with Silmande.

However, a world away from his wife and his House, faced with the possibility of having to wait who knows how long before he can divorce his wife and be with Silmande, Hebrion decides the marriage doesn’t matter. The minute he found his soul mate, the marriage was void. He is already divorced in his heart, at that point, and the law is a formality. He would never want to hurt his wife, he loves her in a way and respects her, but to him, soul mate comes before all. He would be with Silmande as soon as possible, and while he wouldn’t make the decision lightly, he would not be tortured by his decision. In his mind, it is right.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Getting Started

Here I am, bright and early on a saturday morning, getting started on round 2 of the editing test armed with my essentials.

In my editing tool kit are:

-Colored pens (rocking the pink today)
-Lined paper for notes (which necessitates a blue pen)
-Strunk and White's Elements of Style
-Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (because I happened to have it on hand)
-A thesaurus
-Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed. (which I will be using in lieu of a house style sheet)
-and the most crucial: a huge coffee from dunkin donuts, extra-extra style

Hope you're enjoying your saturday morning as much as I already am enjoying mine!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Writing Prompt #14

A friend mentioned that he was pitching a short story to his editor and invited me to join in on the fun. Alas, I know nothing about the genre, so I had to pass, but it gave me an idea for my next writing prompt.

14) You’re in the elevator with your dream agent. Quick! You’ve got thirty seconds to pitch your novel. (which, in this case is going to be the story of you). Try more than one, in different tones. Or, if you prefer, pitch your current wip. Keep it short and hooky!

Here’s mine:


a) Little Red Riding Hood, wandering aimlessly through the wood, is suddenly beset by the Big Bad Wolf. She sprints for her life but he chases her relentlessly, forcing her to run without end. When she finally falls to exhaustion and no attack materializes, she realizes that she is the Big Bad Wolf, and she had long ago swallowed Little Red Riding Hood whole.

b) It’s The Breakfast Club meets Must Love Dogs. Lady Notorious is part of a disparate (and occasionally wacky) group of editors who start their day way too early at a newswire service, where they juggle angry Chinese clients, an ice machine that projectile vomits ice by the metric ton and really, REALLY big spiders. She’s given up hope of ever finding a nice, normal guy, and decides to marry the next guy her bulldog picks out for her.

(Note: The stuff about work is true, the part about the romance is not. I am definitely not on the market, and while I love Buri, he would pick out someone who would play tug with a Frisbee the longest. I’m not sure he’s qualified to be making those decisions…)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


So, I have actually *gasp* started writing again on my current wip (work in progress)! It's a heady feeling. What I'm feeling overwhelmed with is the plotting. The writing I can always fix later, once I get the basic language down. But plotting....I hate to have to rewrite huge swaths of the ms because I didn't take the time to really sit down and plan the book.

Toward that end, I picked up (again) Story, by Robert McKee, which my crit partner claims is the quintessential book on plotting. I'd picked it up before, made it about 30 pgs in and drifted off. I hadn't really been into writing again at that point. This time I picked it up, and ignoring all his bemoaning the state of plotting these days, everything really resonated. I'm about a chapter in, but wow. I found myself nodding with it. It really inspired me to get serious about craft again. Not just writing, but studying writing again.

Toward that end I'm making a reading list.

Craft books on it so far are:

-Story by Robert McKee
-Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress (at least the section on middles for now)

Writing books are a separate list:

-Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty
-Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney
-Write Tight by William Brohaugh

I am currently reading Story and Grammar Girl's tips. We'll see what others get added down the road!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Gift!

A friend of mine, who is an extremely talented microhero artist, took the time to whip up a microhero of me! He might have been a little ... ah ... generous, in some areas, but he still did an amazing job. The best part is, of course, the addition of the Buribabes to the shot.

What do you think?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Writing Prompt #13

13) It's the 1950's and there you are, at the office, drinking your lunch. What are you drinking and who are you with?


Here's mine:

13) She crossed the room in neat, tiny strides, her pencil skirt restricting her movement. There was a satisfying click as each heel landed, punctuating her determination to get this over with. She paused only long enough to fix them each a drink before advancing on his desk. No novice to the game, she perched on the end of his desk with an accented lift of her hip that sent the fabric of her skirt stretching tight across her bottom. The movement drew his eye.

He reclined in his chair as she went to hand his glass to him. The buttons she’d undone before slipping into his office gaped as she leaned over, giving him a view of delicate lace and flesh. His interest noticeably peaked. She felt nothing but the hardening of her resolve as she sipped at her sidecar, wondering how long she had to play coy before he would make his power play.

His lack of finesse was legendary in the office. Hopefully it wouldn’t take long; she had things to do, including tackling a pile of manuscripts. She resisted the urge to look at the clock. Another sip of her sidecar. A coy glance. A short trill of laughter after an inane remark of his, just the way her mother’d taught her. A pause in the banter—the moment presented itself. She didn’t hesitate before pressing her lips to his, tumbling into his lap. This was a working lunch, and she damn well deserved a raise.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writing Prompt #12

12) Submission time! How do you handle the agonizing wait after you’ve sent something out?


Here’s mine:

12) Everyone says the best cure to the waiting anxiety is to get started on the next book/story right away, but, come on! All I can think about is that email I just sent out. I’m checking my email every 5 minutes for a reply, even though I know better. Worse yet, I’m checking my spam folder, just in case.

And I didn’t even send in a work of fiction…we’re talking about a resume and editing sample.

Still, the pain is fairly acute.

I’ve been through the submission mill enough times to know that the farther away you get from the submission date the less you obsess over it, but I am still in the obsessed state. That, more than anything, drove me to send a follow-up email (something I rarely do).

Good news! I should hear back on Monday. Bad news! I have to wait til Monday….With it being Wednesday right now, that’s 5 days too long to wait.

My game plan for surviving the wait? Considering how much I want this opportunity, I think I just plan to obsess and sit by the phone, in case the managing editor makes a decision earlier. Don’t call me! I need the line free….

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Writing Prompt #11 a & b

11a) How do you prefer to edit your own work? Describe your process at any level of draft.

11b) Write a paragraph/scene involving the words “supercilious,” “dog” and “envy” in any tone, first person.


Here’s mine:

11a) I definitely write using a computer, but I prefer to edit pen and paper style. Despite the vast amount of paper it consumes, I print my draft and red-line it by hand. Well, maybe pink-line it. Purple, depending on my mood. I’ll do that at any stage, rough to final draft, then go through and enter all of my edits into the word doc. I find I’m more effective at catching things that way, and I read more thoroughly on paper.

Yeah, I’m old school like that.

11b) I cornered the dog, almost smiling as his gaze darted to my left and right, seeking an escape he wouldn’t find. His shoulders hunched and he seemed to shrink in size. He backed away til his heel hit wainscoting, as effective as a doorstop wedging him in place. In my mind I saw the supercilious grin he had employed all evening. It was a thin disguise, no more masking his hunger for the young gel’s innocence than his off-hand remarks had disguised his envy of her suitors.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Writing Prompt #10

10) Describe one thing that keeps you from writing

There many reasons why I stopped working on my current wip, but one thing that has been stopping me from getting started again is the pressure. I spent SO much time on Sworn Sword, poured so much into and it didn’t end up getting published. Partly to be expected, and I don’t regret any part of the effort. But, with that said, I am determined (hopeful) to go through all of the same effort on my new wip, this time ending with publishing contract in hand.

That’s in my mind every time I approach my wip. So I am always feeling the self-imposed pressure to write tighter/smarter, to craft a more sophisticated plot, to deepen characterization, to take scene outcomes in different directions…to do whatever it takes to get this wip published. The pressure to do all of that makes writing this novel feel “too hard,” especially where I haven’t been writing.

In the end, I know I’ll put the same amount of effort into this novel and be just as satisfied with the final product as I am with Sworn Sword, pubishing contract or not. I need to keep that in mind and just write.


After yet another hiatus from writing, I am doing my best to get back to my craft. The inspiration, you ask? My critique partner. She’s finishing up her MFA shortly and about to get to work on the next full draft of her novel and her getting fired up about it is getting me fired up about writing.

That and it’s just been way too long.

Toward that end I am resurrecting my writing prompts blog. Sadly it’ll be on this time instead of livejournal for the simple reason that I can’t access livejournal at work. I’ve rescued some of my previous prompts from my old blog, and I’ll do my best to go back and fill in the gaps as I can.
For now, some are archived if you want to go back and try an older one.

Happy writing!

-Lady Notorious

Writing Prompt #9 a & b

Writing Prompt # 9a & b

9a) List your favorite name that you used for a character. Not your favorite character, just your favorite name. Might change all the time, but pick your favorite today.

9b) Write a scene/start in a NON-COMICAL tone that involves galoshes on a dry day, and eggs for a vegan.


Here’s mine:

9a) Crookedturn


Whoever decided that galoshes were in-style this season ought to be shot. Ariana stood on the subway in her smart black and white checked boots and tried to ignore her sweaty feet. First day back from spring break and she was already tired of the commute.

The T finally lumbered its way above ground and the Towers came into view. Not soon enough for her feet. The arch support in a pair of rubber boots was surprisingly lacking. The doors creaked open and deposited her into the dubious March sunshine, mid-street.


She dodged the drivers who were clearly intent on hitting pedestrians, and made her way back to her dorm.

She had three things on her mind while waiting to pass through security: dropping her heavy bag just inside her door, kicking off her now detested boots, and cuddling her illicit kitten, Bastet.

When the elevator finally delivered her to her floor, she breathed a sigh of relief. That relief was short-lived when she saw the festive basket that sat outside her door. A gay pink and green, the plastic easter basket trailed cellophane “grass” across her mat.

Ire rose, swift and fierce, at the thought of what she’d find inside: brightly dyed, boiled eggs. The tag read: Happy Easter, love Trevor.

Her ex really knew how to tweak a vegan.

Writing Promt #8 1 & b

8a) Name one book (yes, limit yourself to just one, this time), that inspired you, either as a reader or a writer.

8b) Write a scene or scene start, in ANY tone, fiction or non-fiction, that begins with:

"Dear Diary,

This will be my last entry."


Here are mine:

8a) Redwall, by Brian Jacques, first book in the Redwall Series.

This is such an easy choice for me. It is the first “long” fantasy book that I ever read. My mum is a big reader, but no one else in my family is into fantasy, so I did not have a childhood filled with C.S. Lewis and Terry Pratchet.

My fantasy exposure came from fairy tales for the most part, and I have a much abused copy of the Brothers Grimm that I read hundreds of times as a child. Redwall opened up a whole new world for me. It’s the only YA fantasy that I read, I jumped right from there to Melanie Rawn, but that stepping stone was a pivotal moment in my life as a reader.

Besides, high fantasy ideals coupled with adorable animals? Irresistible.


I decided to write this from the pov of a character in my current wip.

Dear Diary,

This will be my last entry.

The outcome has ever been the same: betray one friend to benefit another. The only question came from deciding whom to betray, and whom to save.

Though in the end, it may appear that I have betrayed both.

So be it.

Silmande will live, and even if she holds me in enmity, I stand by my decision.

I waited too long to act against the tide I saw coming in across the horizon. My own unwillingness to stir, to admit, brought me to this place. Had I bespoken Lannus, given him counsel in all urgency that he might consider his actions in a light previously unknown, I might now be standing with my liege against the threat, rather than acting against his wishes with subterfuge unbecoming of an Enchantress.

Perhaps he needed only one.

One to strengthen his worn down dedication to peace.

Silmande he would never involve, and I, in my inaction, declined.

In the end, though his word forced my betrayal, only I created the place in which I stand.

The order is soon to come, and guards will follow, so let this be my last declaration.

A life saved, through faith broken, is the best of my actions in storm-cycles.

Inriad forgive.

Writing Prompts #3 a & b

3a) What was the first book you read seriously about writing once you decided that you were, in fact, a writer? Can be about craft, the business, or even the writing life. Was it helpful? Why or why not?

3b) Write a simile or metaphor that you have NEVER used before for each of the following colors, and, which one was hardest to come up with something for?



Here’s mine:

3a) The first book I read once I decided that I was a Writer was “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Your Romance Published”, no lie.

I found it EXTREMELY helpful! It did two things for me. 1) got me started thinking about romance as a specific genre, with specific needs and requirements. This in turn started me thinking about the romance novel I wanted to write. 2) it gave me what I felt was a VERY realistic view of the odds of getting published, and the reality of how much money published authors don’t make. I have always written toward the goal of publication, and I feel that this started me off on the right foot. It didn’t give me a fairly tale version of a writer’s life. It laid out clearly (in general terms) how advances, taxes, contracts and other paperwork bits really worked. What I learned from reading the book has only been confirmed and expounded on since then. It was a great place for me to start.


Red as the inside of a dragon’s mouth
Orange as a car on fire
Yellow as a smoker’s once white walls
Green as five week old bread
Bluer than your fingers after a bag full of cotton candy
Purple as the Revenant Chestpiece (ok, that one failed >.< )
Pink as an unfortunate bridesmaid’s dress
White as a skunk’s stripe
Black as Halloween nail polish
Grey as the snow in boston
Brown as twisted sourdough pretzel

And purple was my hardest. Red I wrote first.

Writing Prompts #2 a & b

2a) What’s the last line you wrote, the last time you wrote? (Not including prompts)

2b) Same challenge as yesterday, this time with a COMEDIC/FARCICAL tone.

Here’s the prompt: Write a scene starter, no more than 300 words, that starts with: “A (wo)man walked up to the bar.” Any genre, focus on a particular element and really work it – character, plot, setting, dialogue, milieu (world creation). Rock it.


Here’s mine:

2a) The tea she offered him was lukewarm, as if it too had been waiting on Silmande for some time.

2b) (note: I hate trying to write comedy besides witty one-liners, so, this is likely to stink, but, here’s an attempt!)

A woman walked up to the bar in Glug Glug’s. All right, she sort of sidled up to it. Can one really sidle when one only has one leg and a wooden peg where the other belongs? Okay, so she sort of hop-hobbled, but damn if she wasn’t the most graceful semi-mobile biped he’d ever seen.

Or…at least seen for a week. Who could say. He’d been sober for a grand total of…wait, what day was it? Huh. Maybe he hadn’t been sober. Maybe if he were sober ole peg-leg wouldn’t have looked so good.

Then again, maybe she would have. Was he partial to wooden limbs? He wracked his brain, trying to remember. Huh. Whelp, she was the only one in the place who didn’t have scales or smell like the inside of his mouth after a three day binge tour of the galactic bar circuit, so hey, prime meat she was!

He did a little sidling himself, angling for her coordinates. The thing that rammed his side might have been a table he lurched into, or kidney failure, he couldn’t rightly say, and did it really matter, in the end?

He finally caught up to where she had been standing, if a little unsteadily, at the bar. “Whatcha frinking, little thing?” He smiled crookedly at her, or perhaps his teeth were crooked, he couldn’t remember the difference at the moment.

She eyed him, then spat out, “Whatever you’re not frinking.”

“Whelp, that’ll be tough, think I’ve tried ‘em all. Um, ‘cept Glug Glug’s dishwater out back, though, I’m game if you are.”

He impressed himself with the novelty of his suggestion. A girl liked an adventurous man, afterall, didn’t they?

Writing Prompts #1 a & b

1a) Describe yourself as a writer in 3 lines.

1b) Write a scene starter, no more than 300 words, that starts with: “A (wo)man walked up to the bar.” Any genre, but the tone today SERIOUS or dramatic, if you will. Focus on a particular element and really work it – character, plot, setting, dialogue, milieu (world creation). Rock it 

(feel free to change the “a wo/man” to “I” if you want to write first person POV, and the “walked” to “walk” or “walks” to fit your tense. I just roll in 3rd person past, usually)


Here’s mine:

1a) I am a perfectionist, which means to say that my writing is never good enough for me. I constantly edit myself, even on a rough draft, so badly that I handicap my own writing process. I live to write, and it’s my own laziness that keeps me from living most days.

A woman walked up to the bar, looking as buttoned down as a beach house in hurricane season. Her black pencil skirt was all business, sleek and severe to just past the knee, revealing calves that flexed when she settled onto the high bar stool. Her tailored blouse fit perfectly, and the ribbon about her throat matched her black satin pumps.

The loose bun in her hair and the shoulder bag she carried said business traveler, but the cosmopolitan she ordered said otherwise. It was 11 am in the bar of the hotel located in Logan Airport, and she drank the pink concoction much too quickly.

Sure, I nursed my jack and coke without remorse for the early hour, but she would have a hard time discussing target financials and powerpoints if she didn’t take it easy.

The bartender eyed her from the end of the bar where he stood chatting with a coworker. Making an approach was clearly his intention, and I could almost see the man turning lines over in his mind. From the way she angled her head, staring at her drink when she wasn’t gulping, neither looking left or right, I knew the man was in for disappointment. From the look on his face he knew it too, but hey, a guy had to try, right?

Ms. Neat-and-Tidy must have sensed the same because she signaled him over before he could make his move. She ordered another cosmo, then sleekly turned to glance out into the airport at the arrivals board, avoiding the pass completely.


Her scarlet lips moved ever so slightly as she studied the board, as if repeating a number to herself over and over. Who, then, was arriving that had such a tight little package drinking her courage?

First Things First

Introduce yourself and what you write.

Lady Notorious or Miss M. I write high fantasy, adventure fantasy, romantic fantasy,urban fantasy on occassion, fantasy fan fic, historical romance (Regency), futuristic romance, paranormal romance – all novel length with the exception of fan fic, and the 2 short stories I’ve written in my life.

Current writing goal?

Writing in the blog at least twice a week

Writing mascot?

The Buribabes

Writing must haves?

Athena, the laptop. I edit way too much to work in pen and paper, and for some reason signing on to the laptop (as opposed to Pico the Super Computer) just says “writing time” in my brain.

Favorite time to write?

First thing in the morning, I’m useless in the evenings.